Mother’s Day: The Making It Happen Initiative

Without a doubt, I count myself blessed to have been brought up by a wonderful, caring, loving mother.

Raising three daughter’s in this day and age is no mean feat, and my mum did a very good job raising us to be strong, independent, resourceful women, capable of making our own hazardous way through this life. I sometimes think our independence frustrates her and she will fully admit to finding it difficult to untie the apron strings. However, with the help modern technology, she is never far from our Facebook or Twitter feeds, checking in and making sure we are all doing fine. She says it’s in the small print of being a mother.

My mum had me when she was 28, the age I am now. Sometimes I wonder how I would do if I was faced with impending motherhood. I think it’s safe to say that, although petrifying from a personal point of view, giving birth and raising a child here in the UK is a whole lot safer and easier than some places in the world.

For mums-to-be in Sierra Leone, giving birth can be a matter of life and death.
In Sierra Leone a shocking one in four deaths of women at child-bearing age happen during pregnancy and childbirth and a tragic one in eleven babies are lost before their first birthday.


Saving lives: Musu with her healthy baby boy in Freetown maternity hospital. Picture: Nancy Durrell McKenna/SafeHands for Mothers

In poor countries like this, there’s not always enough medical staff and know-how at hand to prevent needless deaths during childbirth.

That’s why UK aid is supporting British doctors, nurses and midwives to share their skills and experience with health workers across Africa and Asia.

The ‘Making it Happen’ initiative is helping to save the lives of thousands of mothers and their children.
UK aid responded to a request from the Government in Sierra Leone to launch free healthcare for pregnant and breast-feeding women and children under five in 2010. As a result 39,000 more women are delivering their babies in health facilities.

But in poor countries like Sierra Leone, there’s not always enough medical staff and know-how at hand with such a demand on services. Around half of all the women giving birth here have to do so without a skilled health worker present.

Making it Happen takes skilled health workers from Britain to share lifesaving expertise with doctors, nurses and midwives in countries across Africa and Asia.vThey deliver courses designed by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, an international research centre that leads on maternal and newborn health. The scheme teaches hands-on skills through real life scenarios that reflect the local working conditions.

The new knowledge helps health workers deal with the main causes of mothers’ deaths – including severe bleeding and obstruction during birth. It also covers care for new babies, early warning signs of a problematic birth and emergency help like resuscitation and surgical skills.

The initiative not only teaches lifesaving skills, it also coaches local staff to be trainers themselves, so they can pass on their skills to new doctors, nurses and midwives in the future. These local tutors gradually take responsibility for delivering the courses in Sierra Leone, with less need for British support.

As a result, mothers’ deaths have reduced by nearly 30% in hospitals trained up by the Making it Happen scheme, while the number of babies dying was cut by around 15%.

Thanks to the new initiative, more mums and their newborn babies can look forward to a brighter future.

To find out more:


Making it Happen is a joint project, funded by UK aid from the British Government and delivered by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and UNICEF.

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